Cutline: A file photo from the DEA of 40 pounds of methamphetamine that was seized recently. (Special to The Commercial)

NEW ORLEANS – Drug Enforcement Administration Acting Administrator Uttam Dhillon

announced Friday the DEA will direct enforcement resources to methamphetamine

“transportation hubs” — areas where methamphetamine is often trafficked in bulk and then

distributed across the country. While continuing to focus on stopping drugs being smuggled

across the border, DEA’s Operation Crystal Shield will ramp up enforcement to block their

further distribution into America’s neighborhoods.

DEA has identified eight major methamphetamine transportation hubs where these efforts will be

concentrated: Atlanta, Dallas, El Paso, Houston, Los Angeles, New Orleans, Phoenix, and St.

Louis. Together, these DEA Field Divisions accounted for more than 75 percent of

methamphetamine seized in the U.S. in 2019.

Operation Crystal Shield builds on existing DEA initiatives that target major drug trafficking

networks, including the Mexican cartels that are responsible for the overwhelming majority of

methamphetamine trafficked into and within the United States. DEA domestic seizures of

methamphetamine increased 127 percent from 49,507 pounds to 112,146 pounds from FY 2017

to FY 2019. During the same time frame, the number of DEA arrests related to

methamphetamine rose nearly twenty percent.

“For decades, methamphetamine has been a leading cause of violence and addiction – a drug

threat that has never gone away,” said Acting Administrator Dhillon. “With a 22 percent increase

in methamphetamine-related overdose deaths, now is the time to act, and DEA is leading the way

with a surge of interdiction efforts and resources, targeting regional transportation hubs

throughout the United States. By reducing the supply of meth, we reduce the violence, addiction,

and death it spreads.”

DEA New Orleans Field Division Special Agent in Charge Brad L. Byerley said,

“Methamphetamine destroys lives and is one of the primary drivers of violence across the nation,

including here in our four-state region. Operation Crystal Shield will build on DEA’s ongoing

efforts to hold meth dealers accountable. We will continue to seize their profits, shut down their

distribution networks, and put dealers where they belong – behind bars. By continuing to target

local distribution networks in this transportation hub, DEA and our federal, state and local law

enforcement partners are working to reduce violent crime and improve the quality of life for the

citizens in our area and beyond.”

Acting United States Attorney Clay Fowlkes stated, “Methamphetamine is a dangerous drug that

presents a significant threat to the safety of our communities in the Western District of Arkansas.

We are prepared to support this operation in any way possible to help fight the distribution of

this dangerous drug and protect the safety of our communities. “

The DEA New Orleans Field Division, which covers Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and

Arkansas, is seeing a significant increase in the amount of methamphetamine seized, up 58

percent in the last year. As a transportation hub, we are committed to using all our enforcement

resources to attack this problem. Specifically, we are enhancing our interdiction efforts, which

target transportation hub facilities utilized by the drug trafficking networks. Further, we have

assigned additional personnel, to include more Task Force Officers, to focus on interdiction


Virtually all methamphetamine in the United States comes through major ports of entry along the

Southwest Border and is transported by tractor trailers and personal vehicles along the nation’s

highways to major transfer centers around the country. It is often found in poly-drug loads,

alongside cocaine, heroin, and fentanyl.